Trump Administration Moves to Spike Insurance Premiums… Again
In Republicans’ latest assault on Americans’ health care, it has been reported that the Trump Administration will stop making critical risk adjustment payments – which will further increase premiums for millions across the country.
At every opportunity, Republicans are making health care more expensive for hard-working families – attacking people with pre-existing conditions, cynically driving up insurance premiums, and handing massive tax breaks to the same pharmaceutical companies raising drug prices.
And this time is no exception. Republicans are proving once again that they do not care how many people they hurt in their fevered obsession with sabotaging health care.
The Trump administration said Saturday that it was suspending a program that pays billions of dollars to insurers to stabilize health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, a freeze that could increase uncertainty in the markets and drive up premiums this fall.
“Any action to stop disbursements under the risk adjustment program will significantly increase 2019 premiums for millions of individuals and small-business owners, and could result in far fewer health plan choices,” said Justine G. Handelman, a senior vice president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. “It will undermine Americans’ access to affordable care, particularly for those who need medical care the most.”
“We are very discouraged by the new market disruption brought about by the decision to freeze risk adjustment payments,” said Matt Eyles, the president and chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group for insurers.
Health insurers warned that a move by the Trump administration on Saturday to temporarily suspend a program that was set to pay out $10.4 billion to insurers for covering high-risk individuals last year could drive up premium costs and create marketplace uncertainty.
“What you are effectively doing is dismantling pieces of [the ACA] without replacing them,” [Eric Hillenbrand, a managing director at consultancy AlixPartners] said. “It moves us back to some extent to the status quo where people with pre-existing conditions found it very difficult to get insurance.”
The Trump administration’s move to suspend billions of dollars in payments that insurers expect injects new uncertainty into the Affordable Care Act’s insurance markets right as the companies are deciding next year’s rates.
The insurance industry warned it would likely push up rates on 2019 plans. The payments are drawn from insurers with a preponderance of relatively healthy customers to subsidize those with a larger contingent of less-healthy policyholders.
The Trump administration took another major swipe at the Affordable Care Act, halting billions of dollars in annual payments required under the law to even out the cost to insurers whose customers need expensive medical services.
The suspension of these payments is the most recent maneuver by the Trump administration to undercut the health-care law that President Trump has vowed since his campaign to demolish. A Republican-led Congress last year failed to repeal much of the ACA. The administration has been taking steps to dismantle it through executive powers.
The American people cannot afford the raw Republican deal on health care. Democrats are fighting to give the American people A Better Deal, with lower health costs and better care for all.